The views expressed here are from an ex-poker dealer that could step back into the box at any point in time — or not! Sometimes funny, sometimes cold and cutting, sometimes just tossing out a little bit of wisdom I learned about myself while pitching tickets and playing poker for over 30 years, this is an ongoing walk-through of what it's like to sit in the poker dealer's chair – the box.
In the last View from the Box, I had started detailing a bit of the time spent in the box with Curtis Bibb in the player’s chair. Some of the words, gestures, and looks that came from him wouldn’t be allowed anywhere else except in a poker room. I met Curtis at the Mirage years before. Back then he was pleasant, dressed like a hog farmer, married, and had kids – he did have a farm or business back home…Virginia I think. He’d hit the Mirage now and then, and it seemed that I always dealt the high-limit section and that’s where he was at. He played 7 Card Stud only back in those days.
One night at the Mirage I started dealing the game he was in and he was talking it up and gambling and told me he’d had a cover-up tattoo done on his upper arm, and rolled up his T-shirt sleeve enough to show it to me. It was a bulldog with ‘Big Dog’ written over it. He really liked the tattoo artist and as the conversation went on, I found out my middle son, Joshua South, was the artist. It was fun, since neither of us had any idea about the connection until that moment.
Well…time does change everything. Curtis came in with his new girl – and eventual wife – Marybel, she’d sit behind him while he played, but still his visits in weren’t that frequent unless he was playing on a different shift.
Bellagio opened. Curtis’ attitude had gone straight down hill, it took about seven to eight years but his ship had sunk and he didn’t even know he’d been fired upon. Marybel learned to play $4/$8 Limit Hold’em and seldom ever sat behind him. When she first started playing, if I dealt through her game, when I hit the table Curtis was playing at, he quizzed me on her play and actually was interested in my opinion on how she was doing. As time went on, I never dealt to him when he was sober and it was sheer hell on my end but I believe it was the same for all of the dealers if he wasn’t winning — and we never talked about Marybel's play.
I heard from a friend (a very reliable source that knew Harman) that one night when Curtis was so drunk he could barely walk without careening off the walls and slots heading out to valet, that he managed to talk Jennifer Harman into giving him a ride home. First he couldn’t remember where he was staying (needed more alcohol I suppose) and she had to drive around with him until he figured out how to tell her to get to his place. When she pulled up, he got out, turned around, and puked in her car. WHEE!
How did he get tagged as a ‘champion head-butter?’ That’s mine. I gave it to him after coming into work one night to hear about the tale from the night before. Let’s get to it.
December 3, 2002: Whether this was the expected registration or not for Bellagio’s Five-Diamond First Event Finalists, the room was very busy and games everywhere. Satellites were running for tomorrow’s tournament. Nice little buzz and lots of noise and chips going on.
Players conversing in one game said there were no high limit games running. Absolutely UNTRUE. There was a $1,000-$2,000 Mixed early in the evening, All of the low and middle limit games were running. $200-$400 Pot Limit, half Omaha, half Hold’em early in the evening, changed later to $1,500 -$3,000 Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. $400-$800 Mixed and action, action, action. Stop in and see for yourself, talking it up doesn’t quite do it justice.
The half Pot Limit Omaha, half limit Hold’em game had two Dealer buttons, one for each game. Confusing as hell. A player could miss a blind in one game and not have missed it in another. They played with a Forward moving Button in the Limit Hold’em session. Could be a new rule is in the making at Bellagio. This seems to be where it all starts…high limit.
The champion head-butter, the one and only record holder to ever take out an employee that was minding his own business doing maintenance, in one of the Bathrooms at Bellagio, is back…that would be Curtis B. He played on Friday night, acted as if nothing had happened and took control of the game by telling Lyle B. that he didn’t have to post to take a hand when the Mixed game went to Hold’em. Nice that he now makes the rules too.
Overheard conversation between the Curtis and Ralph P. Curtis relates that what he did was uncalled for but the Maintenance Person was working in only one stall and the whole bathroom was closed. Curtis should have been allowed to use one of the stalls. The Maintenance Person got in his face and Curtis just leaned into him and hit him with his head. Hello headache!
That is Curtis’s way of justifying his bad behavior. It would be too simple if he would behave like a responsible adult and act like other people had rights and feelings also. Suppose we knocked someone out every time they told us we couldn’t do something or better yet, just get a gun and shoot them for doing their job. Hell, there’d be so many dead and wounded lying around we couldn’t walk across the street.
How did Curtis get back in? Good question.
June 3, 2004: Just as the room was a screamer, now it’s hit the other side of noise and confusion. It’s liveable. One can visit without screaming, faces take shape and resemble someone you really know instead of someone you think you know, the lists are not 60 deep, and we even have open seating with empty tables in the room. Phew! I knew the day would come but wondered if I’d live to get there.
Something that has created a wrinkle in my brain and I can’t let go of it…Curtis B. was removed from Bellagio because he reportedly head butted an engineer in one of the bathrooms. A few days later, he was back in the room.
A few months ago he was reportedly removed from Bellagio for striking a sweater that was with a player in the game Curtis was playing in.
Out of the blue, Curtis is back. Excuse me while I throw up here!!!! What does all of that mean?
I find it hard to believe that someone capable of physically striking someone else is allowed in any establishment.
Another side of it that I find hard to believe is that anyone that was 86′d or removed from any establishment would return to that establishment.
Color me weird here. If I’m ever 86′d from someplace, they would have to send me a gold engraved letter from the owner of the place begging me to return…guess it’s a pride thing.
I sat right down in a $15-$30 Holdem game. The first hand dealt, I called the wrong hand as a winner and mucked the best hand. The 1s had the best hand and calmly asked me, “Would you turn those cards up please?
Shit! I haven’t done that in a million years but believe me, sooner or later I will and tonight was the night.
The 1s was wonderful. Not only did he NOT grab my arm and try to choke me to death, he threw lots of money in my pocket every time he won a hand. Geez! The Poker God really is looking out for me! She’s wonderful.
Something that has nothing to do with poker. If the asshole down the street doesn’t go out and kill his car alarm, I’m going to go out and kill him and his car alarm.
I followed Jim tonight. While dealing a $4-$8 Holdem game, I watched and semi-listened to problems Jim was having on the game in front of me which was $30-$60 Holdem. J.J. was having a fit with Jim.
A note on J.J.: Years ago, at the Mirage, J.J. played $20-$40 Holdem. He was filled with complete insanity for the game and played every night. His wife sat behind him now and then and he always seemed to win, not necessarily while I was dealing, but he always had chips in front of him and JAMMED it up every night. He laughed and giggled while he played, stacking chips and throwing them in the pot before he even looked at his next hand.
He did what most players that start too high too fast do. He dimmed over the years into the player that can’t beat the game, one that won’t adjust his play, one that always has a reason that he lost a pot or didn’t win and it wasn’t because of his play. He’s played intermittently for the last year or so.
J.J. and I definitely remember each other and we are not on bad terms, although he likes to make a statement when I deal to him that goes something like this, “Linda, you know I love you but you never deal me anything,” as he goes out to smoke.
This statement is totally ludicrous. Of course I’ve dealt him hands that he wins with…go figure.
On to tonight’s events. J.J. was having a huge FIT with Jim. Jim called the floor, then asked for the Shift Supervisor because he needed help.
Kamell appeared and spent some time talking to J.J. and eventually I pushed Jim.
On the last hand that Jim dealt, J.J. waved his hands in the air and yelled, “Get out of here.”
Jim hadn’t even pushed the pot yet and he defended himself with, “I’m not going anywhere.”
It was ugly.
Jim left, I sat down and dealt. J.J. made a few comments about the fact that he had lost with A-A and Jim smiled.
Sorry kids but I smile a lot of times when I’m dealing. A friend walks by and nods hello. The guy next to me says something. The guy across from me smiles at me. How the hell can I not smile. It doesn’t have anything to do with the hand.
J.J. played up and down for a few hands, he was short chips. He made the comment, “Ok, Linda, put me out of my misery,” when he went all-in once. Sounds like a scene from ‘They Shoot Horses Don’t they?’ but we’re talking poker here.
He ended up going all-in on another pot and leaving the game. Someone noted that he’d whizzed up about $2,000 or more winner and then whizzed down through all of it.
Me? I try not to note any of that. I do note the player that thinks they are supposed to win every time they enter into a pot. I pay attention to the player that thinks I did it to them. Hey…those are the people I want to play poker with!!!!!
On the fun side of poker, my last down broke up early with the players drawing for seats in a new game. Pete, Graveyard Supervisor sat down to lock up the game and someone came up behind me and started giving me a back massage.
Pete said, “Don’t be trying to get on the good side of the dealers, Gus.”
It was wonderful and went on for a few minutes. Gus Hansen put his face next to mine and said, “I don’t have the energy for a full body massage.”
I grabbed both of his arms and pulled him around me, demanding, “Come here!”
We visited for a few minutes…damn I love poker!
The car alarm? I called 311, got the transfer to dispatch. I have to go out and find the car, license # and address to report them.
When I called back, they told me that if I knocked on the door, it would be faster than them getting there!
CHRIST! If the car alarm hasn’t brought them into the real world in four hours, how the hell is my knocking on the door going to do it?????
Let alone the fact that I’m a single, white woman…”Oh Boy, dipstick, let’s go knock on the neighbor’s door and wake them up at 6 a.m. with a complaint!”
Guess that’s why I love poker…no license plates or home addresses or phone calls…just shut up and deal!
I am soliciting dealers to join me in this great adventure of writing a history of poker from the dealer’s side of the table. A brief sketch of the details are listed in Table Tango, (my blog) in this post, if you would like to find out more information. I would love to share comments from readers but at this time there is no convenient system installed at PokerWorks to handle this. Send me an email – info(at)pokerworks.com — if you want to be one of the contributors to this section, and in the meantime, I’ll work at finding a way to enable a comment section.